Blackout in Ukraine: how Ukrainian cities are preparing and what you need to know
A serious energy crisis arose as a result of russia's systematic attacks on Ukraine's energy infrastructure last year. The shelling left many regions without electricity. Read more about how Ukrainian cities are preparing for this year's blackouts and what you need to know about the 2023 blackout season
More than a year ago, at the beginning of October, the russians began shelling Ukraine's critical infrastructure with drones and missiles. Such terror gradually led to mass blackouts and blackouts.
In the fall of 2023, with worsening weather conditions, russia again resumes attacks on Ukrainian energy facilities.
Is a blackout possible this winter? How is Ukraine preparing for attacks and likely long blackouts? We tell in detail in our material.
Did the Ukrainian energy system manage to recover after last year's massive attacks?
As a result of massive missile attacks in the winter of 2023, the Ukrainian energy system lost its strength. Damages caused by the russians are estimated in billions of US dollars. According to a UN report, as of April 30, 2023, total electricity generation capacity has more than halved. 42 out of 94 critical high-voltage transformers were damaged or destroyed. Also, almost all Ukrainian TPPs and HPPs required repairs after attacks by russian missiles.
Thanks to international assistance, Ukrenergo carried out repair work and ordered the necessary equipment throughout the summer. However, the situation in the country is difficult, because recovery is complicated by the fact that it is very difficult to find some of the components on the market.
In general, Ukraine did not have time to fully restore all damaged energy facilities, but the advantage is that this year's russian shelling will no longer be a surprise and everyone is preparing for them - the energy industry, the Defense Forces, and Ukrainians.
How do they plan to protect energy facilities from enemy attacks?
The most important facilities in the energy sector are planned to be protected by earthen ramparts, concrete cubes, nets, and the control points will also be moved underground.
Regarding the heating system, they are trying to decentralize the process. Teplokomunenergo plans to avoid centralized supply of heat from the CHP, and to build networks of boiler houses in the districts. Facilities in the energy sector are also planned to be dispersed. Critical infrastructure is also protected from possible sabotage.
In general, the electric power industry is a very vulnerable sector to enemy attacks, because, for example, one substation is several hectares of equipment in an open area and it is practically impossible to build a single protective structure. Therefore, there is definitely a lot of hope for anti-aircraft defense.
Is the air defense system available in Ukraine able to protect the sky?
In recent months, the Ukrainian authorities have been actively discussing with Western partners the strengthening of the air defense system in the country. In particular, based on the results of the new meeting in the "Ramstein" format, a coalition for the development of air defense of Ukraine was created.
Currently, as Soviet long- and medium-range systems, Ukraine is armed with: S-300, S-125, Buk (Buk-M1) air defense systems, etc. So are Western complexes: thousands of short-range systems - MANPADS Stinger, Gepard, Starstreak, Mistral, Aspide, as well as medium-range complexes (Iris-T, NASAMS, HAWK) and long-range Patriot and SAMP/T (Mamba) systems. Currently, the Ukrainian air defense system has been strengthened and expanded, so it is able to work against russian missiles more effectively. However, one of the obstacles in its work is the lack of a sufficient number of missiles for the complexes. Read more about air defense available in Ukraine in our material.
In general, Kyiv is the safest city in Ukraine, the sky above the capital is reliably protected from cruise and ballistic missiles, as well as attack drones, which russia uses for attacks almost every day. The most difficult situation is in the frontline regions of the state.
How do Ukrainian cities prepare for blackouts?
The lack of electricity is not only the absence of light in the house and non-working electrical appliances, in large cities it is also a stoppage of heating, because boiler houses have an electric control system and no water supply due to disconnected pumps.
That is why local authorities throughout the country are actively preparing for a possible blackout: they put generators on water channels to ensure water supply, they ring off the heat supply system, they lay separate power grids for utility companies in order to power all boiler houses, pumping stations and telephone towers from a powerful generator, etc.
Are blackouts possible in the winter of 2023-2024?
Experts do not rule out the repetition of blackouts in 2023-2024, especially if the russians continue to fire at substations and power lines, which in turn will lead to the disconnection of the power system and the shutdown of the country's key nuclear power plants. However, the blackout probability does not exceed 15-20%.
However, despite the fact that last year the power engineers managed to quickly restore the equipment, this year there may be difficulties with repairs due to the lack of a sufficient number of components and the exhaustion of the network.
Will blackouts in Ukraine become a seasonal phenomenon?
Even if russia does not resort to energy terror this year, scheduled power outages in winter cannot be avoided, because the Ukrainian energy system is exhausted and has lost 6 GW of capacity together with the Zaporizhzhya NPP.
There will be a shortage of electricity in winter in any situation. Even without shelling, Ukraine would have to import electricity from the EU to cover it.
It is worth noting that, according to the forecasts of energy experts, the situation with electricity will be easier in the regions located closer to the border with the EU than in the frontline regions.
In general, experts believe that turning off the lights for 4-6 hours according to the schedule is a very optimistic scenario for the winter of 2023-2024.
Is it possible to visit Ukraine during blackouts?
Although, at first glance, it may seem that a mass blackout is a sad and to some extent even depressing phenomenon, because without light, everything from street lighting to household appliances and mobile network towers stops working. At the same time, Ukrainians adapted fantastically to difficulties. The roar of generators is a kind of anthem of Ukrainian strength and indomitability. Therefore, if you get into such an atmosphere at least once, you can better understand life during the war.
Kyiv, Lviv, Odesa, Ivano-Frankivsk - almost every Ukrainian city has the experience of life in blackout conditions. Every tourist visiting Ukraine this winter will be able to see for himself what it is like to live without electricity:
- Kyiv is an ancient, invincible and even a little secret Ukrainian capital. The city, which was founded in the 4th century, impresses with old churches, modern high-rise buildings, cultural events and a dynamic rhythm of life even in the absence of electricity. History buffs will be interested to see the Pechersk Fortress - the largest fortification in Europe.
- Lviv is a museum city and an architectural gem of Ukraine, which has been attracting travelers from different parts of the world for many years. During the trip, tourists will be able to walk through the narrow streets of Lviv, taste fragrant Lviv coffee, feel the taste of Lviv life, appreciate the architectural heritage of past generations and visit churches of various denominations. If you go for an evening walk in Lviv, you can discover something completely different, new and mysterious.
- Ivano-Frankivsk is a Ukrainian city that has experience of occupation during the Second World War and is ready to amaze travelers with interesting stories that you will definitely not hear anywhere else.
- Odessa is the southern pearl of Ukraine, which will make you fall in love thanks to its fantastic local color, the beauty of the sea coast and friendly local population.
Look for more tours in Ukraine for every taste on the Visit Ukraine portal.
How to support Ukraine?
Currently, Ukraine is going through the most difficult period in modern history and needs maximum support. Visit Ukraine provides an opportunity to become ambassadors of Ukraine in the world. By buying our branded merch, you support Ukraine, popularize it in the world and speak loudly about the problems in the country. Your example can inspire other people to support Ukraine, which will create a chain reaction of solidarity.
It is also an advantage that the Visit Ukraine collections contain a variety of items: hoodies, T-shirts, bags, towels, cups and much more. Everything presented in the store is brightly decorated with stylish patriotic Ukrainian prints.
Undoubtedly, this year's winter in Ukraine will be another difficult stage in this terrible war. However, strength, courage and international support will surely turn the darkness into light!
Photo: AP Photo / Andrew Kravchenko
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